May 22nd live in Madison Square Garden. Refueled 99 just went off the air and the crowd is still on its feet after what just transpired in the main event of the evening. Back behind the curtain there is a small gathering of HOW crew members but standing in front of them is the HOW CEO Michael Lee Best. He had watched the match from his office and the moment the three count became official he sprinted to the gorilla area eager to see his son after his first televised HOW match.
Michael fidgets with his gold watch on his wrist when suddenly a couple of EPU members part the curtain leading to the stage. A few more EPU members emerge through the curtain basically holding back and forcing Tyler Adrian Best backstage. The Grandson of God is heated and still wants to go back to ringside and finish his fight with Joe Bergman. Tyler pushes the EPU members off of him as Michael approaches his son. He opens his arms preparing to hug the young superstar but stops as he realizes this might be “a little awkward given the situation. Instead, Michael places a hand on Tyler’s shoulder and pulls him close. He uses his free hand to wave off the EPU members as he talks into his son’s ear.
It isn’t long after that when I emerge through the curtain to the backstage area followed by Madison. I immediately noticed Michael talking into Tyler’s ear and the 18-year-old finally starting to relax after what happened at ringside. I didn’t want to disturb such a moment between father and son since I knew there would be plenty of time for us to talk leading up to War Games in the Ukraine. The only thing I did however was pat Michael on the back, we shared a glance at each other as I walked by and headed towards the locker room.
Madison scurried ahead of me and opened the locker room door so that I could step inside. I made my way over to the bench in the locker room and flopped down onto it. I took a deep breath and exhaled before starting to unwrap the tape around my wrists.
“Great work out there tonight. You did just what Michael asked you to do and helped Tyler win his first main event match.” Madison commented as she closed the locker room door and approached the bench where I was seated.
“I hadn’t had a match since beating Scottywood to qualify for the War Games match. It was a good effort but not enough to get me where I want to be.” I tossed the tape from my left wrist onto the floor then started on the right wrist.
“Well, I think it served its purpose being a tune up after spending so much time without a match.” Madison muses. “And you got to build some chemistry with Tyler. So, it sounds like a win-win situation to me.”
“You think a match against Joe Bergman and fucking Xander Azula of all people is enough to get me really for the War Games match?!” I tossed the remaining tape down onto the floor as I glared up at Madison. “Yes, teaming with Tyler was nice but he gets to come out at the very end of the match. I don’t have that luxury, so if I want to make it to both days of the PPV I’m going to need to push that much harder.”
Madison nods her head and turns towards the door. “I’ll find Michael and find out when the private jet is leaving for Ukraine. The earlier we get there, the more time you have to train.”
“I’m not going to Ukraine just yet.” I lean down to start unlacing my boots as Madison stops in her tracks.it
“Excuse me?” Madison turns her head towards me hoping for an explanation.
“I need to go to Chicago, I want to be there by tomorrow morning. So, go make it happen.” I kicked off one boot and went to work on the other.
“Why would you need to–” Madison is cut off as I snap my head up and shout in her direction.
“I didn’t ask you to question me! I asked you to go make it fucking happen, now go!” If looks could kill then this locker room would be a crime scene.
Madison pulled out her cell phone and exited the room without another word. I kicked off the final boot and arched my back trying to loosen some tension. Suddenly a coughing fit hits me as I raise my hand up to my mouth to cover it. Once the coughing subsided I moved my hand and glanced down at my palm.
“Fuck…” The single word escaped my lips.
The palm of my hand was smeared with blood that I had just coughed up. The room started to spin a little bit as the tightness in my chest began to come back. My left arm started to ache as I reached down into my duffle bag and pulled out the bottle of painkillers I had been taking. I looked at the bottle and started to remove the cap of the bottle.
“No… I can beat this.” I shook my head determined to withstand the pain.
I dropped the pill bottle back into the duffle bag before lifting myself off of the bench. I trudged my way over to the shower room to clean up the blood and especially the sweat from the main event. I didn’t have time to lay down and die. I had to get to Chicago.
The next day in Chicago, Illinois we focus on the Ten-X building. Inside the place was pretty much empty as everyone was either still in New York City or already on their way to Ukraine for the PPV. There were a few lights that focused around one of the rings in the center of the floor. I had gotten there earlier with Madison and got in a small workout before my guest had arrived at the building. She was a slender blonde-haired woman with a bright smile. She had a gym bag that was by her side as it hung from her shoulder. Her name was Sloane Taylor. She was a wrestler that bounced around on the indies for a good while. She had big aspirations but didn’t quite have all the skills yet to achieve her dreams.
She had failed in a title match recently against a former rival of mine by the name of Jason Cashe. Sloane was a high flyer by nature but needed work on the fundamentals and to add onto her mat wrestling arsenal. We made our friendly greetings with each other before pointing her in the direction of the dressing rooms in the back where she could change into her wrestling gear. Sloane disappeared into the dressing room as Madison decided to speak up.
“Are you sure this is the smartest way that you could be spending your time?” Madison asks with a little skepticism in her voice.
“Sloane is someone I promised to help before her rematch with Jason Cashe. I’m a trainer here at Ten-X and it’s my job to train people both in and outside of HOW to be better competitors.” I raised one arm and pulled on it with the other to stretch out a bit. “Besides, this will be a big chance for me to get some work in before we head off to Ukraine.”
It wasn’t much longer before Sloane emerged from the dressing room wearing her ring gear and boots. She had a hop in her step, seemingly excited to get help with her ring work today. I instructed her to get into the ring and run the ropes until she was nice and warmed up. Sloane poked out her bottom lip into a pout at the request, but I wasn’t about to take it easy on her. With a defeated whine Sloane slid under the bottom rope and into the ring. Once to her feet Sloane started to race towards the ropes bouncing off back and forth as Madison held up her cell phone to time her.
This went on for about five minutes before Sloane stopped running and seemed eager to get on with the next step of training. However, I decided to test her stamina and made her run the ropes for another five minutes. Sloane stomped her feet onto the canvas in a mini tantrum before finally deciding to do as she was told. Another five minutes passed and once again Sloane came to a stop. I could tell that she was barely winded which impressed me but I would never tell her that, which was the exact opposite of what she seemed to want.
“Hey, you know, I don’t wanna tell you how to train since I’m the trainee and all, but usually there’s some words of motivation or encouragement here.” she said, crossing her arms over her chest.
I raised my eyebrow up towards Sloane who was tapping her foot impatiently. I pulled my gaze from Sloane down to Madison by my side.
“Get in there and wrestle with her for a while.” I said before patting her on the back which makes her stumble a bit.
“Wait, me? I thought you were the trainer here?” Madison squeaked as she regained her balance.
“I am the trainer here but I want to see you wrestle her first so I can observe how she moves in the ring and gauge what her flaws are.” I raised my arm into the air and pointed towards the ring as Madison mumbles under her breath.
Madison shuffles her feet towards the ring then slides under the bottom rope. Madison pulls herself up to her feet and both women stare down at me wondering what their next move should be.
“Sloane, I want you to wrestle Madison the same way you would wrestle any other match you’ve had so far. Don’t hold back or go easy on her, she can take it.” I instructed as I moved closer to the ring to get a better view.
Sloane grinned mischievously and then focused on Madison in front of her.
“Notice he didn’t climb himself in here for some up close and personal training.” Sloane mocked, though when she tensed in the ring, her face was entirely serious.
I slapped my hand on the ring apron a couple of times which got both women moving. They locked up in the middle of the ring and quickly Sloane took advantage, being the more experienced wrestler. Sloane used a high-speed offense with dropkicks and head scissors take downs among other things. When she felt comfortable enough to have Madison down on the canvas for a moment she stepped through the ropes and climbed the turnbuckle. She was a natural on the top rope with good balance and no wasted time. Madison got back up to her feet but was hit with a high cross body block, an elbow drop, and a frog splash all from off of the top of the rope.
“Get up Madison, at least make this challenging for her!” I shouted as Madison used the ropes to pull herself back up to a vertical base.
Sloane was on her feet and stalking around Madison. She decided to hit the ropes to gain momentum as Madison shook the cobwebs loose. Rebounding off the ropes Sloane made a beeline towards her opponent, but Madison managed to hit Sloane with a drop toe hold that sent her crashing down onto the canvas. Madison managed to keep Sloane grounded with side headlocks and a variety of submission holds which Sloane had no answers for at all. I had seen enough and ordered them both to stop then return to their feet.
“Okay Madison you can get out of the ring and take a break. I think I’m ready for the so-called up close and personal training.” I said with a taunting tone as Madison slid out of the ring.
I slid under to the ring and got up to my feet as I gave Sloane the once over with my eyes. She was obviously a little frustrated by Madison grounding her, but she was still eager now that I was standing there in front of her. She shook her head, blowing her bangs out of her face before placing a hand on her hip.
“Before you even say it, I know, I need work on my… technical work, I guess. That’s what you’re here for, buddy.” she joked somewhat lightly, but there was that undercurrent of dedication there. Whatever was asked of her, she would do it.
“Clearly you do.” I began. “But it’s nothing a little hard work won’t fix. So, now since I’m obviously a different opponent from Madison. I want you to come at me and try to take me off my feet without coming off the top rope.”
Sloane nodded her head and was more than ready to accept the challenge. She marched up to me and began to unleash forearm shots to my chest repeatedly. They managed to push me back a bit but nothing as nearly impactful as taking me off of my feet. Seeing that the forearms were futile she decided to try a different approach. She reached down grabbing a hold of me and literally tried to lift me off of my feet for a scoop slam but of course failed miserably. I grunt in anger before whacking her on the back of the head with my open palm.
The gasp was immediate, Sloane’s hand flying to the spot at the back of her head where my palm had made contact. She knew she’d been struck harder; she knew she’d struck harder, but that wasn’t the point. It was a pride thing.
“Again?” She asked shortly, her cheeks reddened, blue eyes without a hint of that earlier playfulness.
I nodded my head and gestured for her to come try once again with my hand. She took a moment to think about what to do before she bounced around side to side just out of my reach. I didn’t make a move and just waited for her to decide to make her move. Finally she used her quickness to drop down and go for a double leg takedown. I wasn’t fast enough to side step her as she had a hold of my legs however she did not possess the strength to put me on my back. That didn’t stop her from trying but eventually I managed to kick her away from me causing her to slide back on the canvas via her butt.
“Against other women your speed and high flying work perfectly because there won’t be many times where there will be an obvious size advantage. The problem is if you want to be the wrestler and Champion that you claim you want to be then you’re not going to always be up against other women.” Sloane glared up at me as she held her hand up to her chin from the kick I gave her.
“Jason Cashe will always be bigger and stronger than you. 97% of the men you face in the ring will have that same advantage. You need to realize you have to get creative against larger opponents because if they can catch you? Then they will most certainly hurt you.” I crossed my arms over my chest hoping my words were sinking in.
It was sinking in whether she wanted it to or not. What I was saying wasn’t exactly earth-shattering stuff, but sometimes it was the most basic things we needed to hear. Sloane relaxed her glare, looking down and then back up again before getting to her feet.
“Again?” She asked simply as she approached, her chin lifted though she was now paying attention to every move made.
Once again I nodded and she came forward a third time. She unleashed rapid kicks to my leg trying to destroy my vertical base. This was more effective than her previous attempts. I hopped on one leg a bit but still remained upright. Sloane hooked my arm and tried to take me over with a hiptoss to the canvas but the size advantage was too much. I turned the tables and flipped her over into a hiptoss of my own but to my surprise Sloane landed on her feet.
Sloane planted a boot to my midsection then tried to whip me into the ropes but I easily reversed. Sloane rebounds off the ropes as I swung a big clothesline but she ducked under it. She bounced off the other side of the ropes as I turned around. Before I could take advantage she hit me with a low dropkick to the leg she was kicking earlier and it brought me down to one knee. She popped to her feet and brought me all the way down to the canvas this time with a DDT. I laid on the mat with a bit of a smirk on my face as Sloane got to her feet and had a small celebration over her accomplishment complete with over the top dance moves.
“Oh yeah, who’s the best? Sloane’s the best, uh huh, who shut him up? That’s right, Sloane did, alright!” Sloane moved in a circle, hyping herself up with a mantra that was either meant as a celebration or as a manifestation. She was completely oblivious to me on the mat, having dismissed me from her mind with her perceived vanquishing of an HOW Hall of Famer.
I pulled myself up to one knee and watched her dance around horribly while chanting to herself. I pounded my fist onto the canvas and shouted towards her to get her attention.
“You took me down once, but that doesn’t mean the match is over! Keep your head in the damn game if you ever expect to be something more than the bitch Cashe wipes the crap from his boots on!” That got her attention and under her skin just a bit as I had intended.
Sloane charges forward and hits me with a running raised knee to the face that knocks me backwards. She turned and raced towards the ropes as I once again pulled myself up to a vertical base. Sloane leaped into the air but I caught her with both arms. With a quick spin I planted her squarely on the canvas with a high impact spinebuster. The back of her head bounced off the mat and for longer than it should have been we just remained in that position.
Sloane on her back with her legs spread on either side of me. I was dead center in a compromising position as our hips couldn’t get any closer to each other. Sloane chest heavily up and down slowly as my body pressed against her. We looked into each other’s eyes without saying a word or deciding to pull apart. Slowly I leaned my head down towards hers which caused her eyes to widen in shock, but she offered no resistance. Just when it seemed our lips were destined to meet, I stopped and used my hand to flick her in the forehead as hard as I could.
“You were doing good but you have to remember against bigger opponents you have to stay in constant motion. Wear them down by making them chase you around but always be selective about when you leave your feet because obviously something like THIS could easily happen to you.” I lectured as Sloane raised her hands to her head where I flicked her.
“Yeah, well I seriously doubt every competitor is going to try to get me into some kind of compromising position, unlike my trainer.” she said, rolling away and to her feet, clearly agitated by the encounter. Still, she was curious. “I know to use my speed but I’m physically outclassed in most matches, what I need to know is what to do when someone like you… catches me? Compromising position or not?” She asked, grinning and laughing a little, her moment of annoyance clearly over.
I pulled myself up to my feet and rolled my neck side to side before responding.
“Don’t act like you’ve never had a man on top of you before, virgin.” I said mockingly before getting back to the point. “One thing you’re going to have to work on is pain tolerance. No matter how good you are there are going to be times in a match when things just don’t go your way. You need to be resilient enough to take a licking…” Sloane narrows her eyes as I just shake my head and give her a ‘you know what I mean’ look.
“As I was saying, pain tolerance is key, and you need to learn some rest holds to keep your opponent down and get your second wind. Some submission moves here and there wouldn’t hurt but what I really want to focus on is teaching you to pick a spot. Whether it be the head, the neck, a limb, or a joint and direct your offense to that one point. You take out a leg or an arm during a match and that gives you a higher chance of being successful with everything else in your move set.” Sloane nodded her head ready to continue the process.
We started at it again and she improved with each passing minute. I showed her pressure points on the body and some joint manipulation. We went over moves that she could use against stronger opponents that would have a low risk of backfiring. We continued training in the ring for another 90 minutes while taking small breaks here and there to discuss what we went over and to rest a bit. Finally, I decided that she had enough training for one day and we agreed to set up another training session for after I got back from Ukraine.
I handed Sloane a fresh towel and let her excuse herself back to the dressing room and shower areas. Madison handed me a bottle of water and I leaned back against a turnbuckle as I began to sip from the bottle. I was surprised by how much I had to work inside the ring with someone of Sloane’s caliber, but it felt good. It felt like it was just what I needed to push myself if I expected to make it a long run during night one and night two on June 11th & 12th. Sloane emerged from the back dressed back in her street clothes with her gym bag in tow. Her hair was still kind of wet but she seemed to be in high spirits. She thanked Madison for her part in helping her today before climbing up to the ring apron. She leaned over the ropes and gave me a hug for taking the time to help her. I reached through the ropes and smacked her on the butt playfully which caused her to punch me in the arm while sporting that bratty grin on her face.
Sloane hopped off the apron and waved goodbye as she exited the building. Over the next few hours, the sun started to set and even Madison had left to return to the hotel room. I ended up staying and was seated cross legged in the center of the ring. My head was down, and my eyes were closed as I thought about everything that was ahead of me come War Games. I’ve had a grand total of three matches this year. Sure, I’ve been victorious in all three but again three isn’t a very high total of work when it comes to prepping for the most violent event of the year. No amount of training or matches between now and Ukraine is going to make up the work rate that both my teammates and opponents have had this year.
However, if you took a good look at the opposition then you wouldn’t think they actually had been in fighting and/or mental shape to handle a task like winning War Games. You had Xander Azula who was called useless by his own teammate. This man’s answer to becoming a credible threat was to go train in a dirty fucking barn with a man that isn’t even booked on the PPV. Xander is too busy letting Joe Bergman shove his hand up his ass and do his talking for him like he was one of Jeff Dunham’s new puppets.
Then you have the woman that literally has been begging her way into War Games until Lee Best’s ears started to bleed. Bobbinette Carey proclaimed months ago that she was going to win this year’s War Games match. She went from thinking that she would be a captain to almost being an afterthought to just about everyone on her own team. Maybe if she stopped pretending to be an actual black woman then people would take her seriously. Maybe if she stopped cosplaying as some kind of online shrink that analyzes everyone’s problems and constantly reminds us of whatever woke ass, special month, week, day it is then possibly she’d stand a chance. But even she knows this is a pipe dream so that’s why she’s kissing Conor Fuse’s ass in the hope that if he wins War Games she can make him the next Shane Reynolds and slut her way to another HOW World Championship reign that will last about as long as a cup of coffee.
Simon Sparrow is a shell of his former self. He’s fallen on hard times to the point he’s stooped to the level of being a ‘mentor’ to Darin Zion as a crutch for his own failing career. He’s gone into the ‘I hate Lee Best’ routine because deep down he wishes Lee would have put in on the winning team and even into The Board. On top of all that his daughter’s medical bills are making him penniless and the fact that Stronk made him his bitch in an HOTv Championship has now made him less of a man. Mr. Sparrow’s penis is about as useless as a Noah Hanson run KFC. A little blue pill may solve his problems in the bedroom, but they aren’t going to help a man who thought it was a good idea to intentionally lose to Scottywood, win War Games.
Most of this is just night one. What really worried me was what could happen on night two if I was lucky enough to make it that far. The remaining members of the winning team on night one would advance to night two. That meant whoever was my partner and teammate on night one would become my enemy on night two. This was a terrifying thought considering how stacked Mike and Lee made our team. From JJR, to Christopher America, and even Stronk himself. Doubt started to creep into my mind as the voice in my head told me that maybe I just needed to be a team player. Be someone who was more focused on one of my teammates winning War Games and becoming HOW World Champion instead of trying to win it myself. My minimum number of matches and the health problems I was trying to keep hidden certainly supported that fact. I wasn’t the biggest, the strongest, or the fastest in this match. I couldn’t just depend on God given talent to overcome 97% of the roster.
If I wanted to survive both the Ukraine war and the War Games match, I had to be smarter than everyone else. I had to take my knowledge of being in the match ever since 2011 against a bunch of guys who at most had one year’s experience in a War Games match. Guys with more experience in War Games like Simon Sparrow and Darin Zion were just warm bodies to fill a need to meet the participation quota. Being mentally focused and locked in was my only option at this point. I needed to take all of the studying I’ve done on both opponent and teammate and wait for the chance to expose a weakness.
The rest can flex their muscles and boost their egos with words.
I’m going to let my actions do the talking.
Working smarter and not harder is going to make me a two-time winner of War Games.